This popular Bhutan cultural tour provides an in-depth view into the ancient way of life and rich culture that still thrives in Bhutan today through the western and central valleys of Paro, Haa, Thimphu, Punakha Wangduephodrang and Bumthang. It is a well paced tour, designed to provide the opportunity to really savor the unique highlights of Bhutan’s most beautiful valleys which offer diverse mountainous landscapes, a rich Buddhist heritage including monasteries, temples and chortens, historical fortresses and an extremely hospitable people. You will discover the vibrant history of Bhutan visiting Dzongs, Museums, villages, valleys, towns and the infamous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in the beautiful Paro Valley.
Day 01: Fly to Paro (2200 m) - Thimpu (2320 m) / 65 kms:
During your flight to Paro, you will experience spectacular views of the Himalayan Peaks including sacred Jhomolhari and Jichu Drakey in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be received by our representative. Then, drive one hour through the relaxing countryside of terraced rice fields interspersed with rhododendrons and pine forests to Thimpu, a unique capital city at meters. En route, visit 15 century Iron Bridge built by Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464) - a great yogi, physician, blacksmith, architect, and a pioneering civil engineer.
Afternoon, you will visit National Memorial Chorten, a monument to world peace and prosperity. Then visit the Tashichhodzong - the ‘Fortress of the Glorious Religion’ houses the Throne Room of His Majesty the King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the main Secretariat Building and the Central Monk Body. Its courtyard is open to visitors during the off-office hours- on weekdays after 4 pm (winter), 5pm (summer) and on weekends. Overnight in Thimpu. (L/D)
Day 02: Sightseeing in Thimpu:
Visit Buddha Park on a hilltop to see the biggest statue of Buddha in the world. The view of Thimpu valley from the park is just amazing. Then visit Textile museum, Painting school, Folk Heritage Museum and National Library which give you an insight of Bhutanese culture, tradition and arts. Overnight in Thimpu. (B/L/D)
Day 03 Thimphu - Punakha - Wangdue Phodrang (1300 m) / 90 kms:
Today, make your way to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan, enjoying the views from Dochu La Pass over 3000 meters. The 108 memorials was built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over indian militants and to liberate the souls of the souls lost.
Drive down through beautiful forests and hamlets; visit Chime Lhakhang on the way. Chime Lhakhang also known as the Temple of the Divine Madman, a uniquely-adorned 15th century temple said to bless visiting couples with fertility. Continue driving to Punakha and explor the historic island fortress Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship. Overnight in Wangdue Phodrang. (B/L/D)
Day 04: Wangdue Phodrang – Bumthang (2650 m) / 200 kms:
After early breakfast, set off on the road to Jakar. The road climbs from Chuzomsa steadily for about 2 hours and crosses the black mountains at Pele la pass (3420m). From here, on a clear day, you can see the Mt. Jumolhari, and other mountains across the valley. After the pass, you are now in Mangde region and people speak different dialect here. Continue drive to Trongsa, en-route stopping at Chendebji chorten and other places along the way to stretch your legs, to admire the landscape or to take pictures. Lunch at Trongsa and take a peek at the Dzong, which is considered one of the largest and certainly the most impressive of all Dzongs in Bhutan. Trongsa Dzong is a rambling collection of buildings that trail down the ridge, with remarkable street like corridors and wide stone stairs running down. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century. The first two hereditary kings ruled the country from here and it is still a tradition that the crown prince first serves as the Trongsa Penlop before ascending to the throne. From Trongsa, it is another 68km/ 2 ½ hour’s drive to Jakar across Youtongla pass (3425m). After the pass, descend into Chume, the first of the four Bumthang valleys. Stop at the roadside village of Zugney to see the weaving deep colored wool textile, a pattern typical to these parts of the country. Overnight at Jakar. (B/L/D)
Day 05: Full day in Bumthang Valley:
Bumthang valley is one of the most sacred places in the Kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the Kings are cremated and the present royal family traces their ancestry back to the famous saint, Pemalingpa.
You will spend the day visiting Kurje Lhakhang, where the saint Padmasambhava subdued a demon and left his body imprint on a rock, the Jambey Lhakhang (7th century temple), Tamshing Lhakhang (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan) and Jakar Dzong (administrative headquarter of the region). Also enjoy a stroll in the village in the evening. Overnight at Jakar. (B/L/D)
Day 06: Bumthang – Gangtey (2900 m) / 195 kms):
Retrace your drive across Yotongla pass and descend into Trongsa, which takes about 2 ½ hours. Visit huge and historical Trongsa Dzong (fortress), site of emergence of present Royal family of Bhutan. Also visit Ta Dzong (watch tower) which now houses the temple dedicated to Jigme Namgyel, father of the first King of Bhutan. After lunch, leaving Trongsa, return west, stopping to visit the Chendebji Chorten, a large white monument, a said to conceal the remnants of an evil spirit vanquished here. Continuing across the spectacular Pelela pass (3420m), then descend to Gangtey in Phobjikha Valley. The beautiful Phobjikha Valley, on the slopes of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few km. down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate. Visit the Gangtey monastery and the surrounding villages in the afternoon. Overnight at Gangtey. (B/L/D)
Day 07: Gantey – Paro (2200 m) 200 kms: Further drive through blossoming hills and pine forests, we arrive at Dochula pass (3,100m) for another opportunity to get the panoramic views of the eastern Himalayan range, including Bhutan's highest peak Gangkar Phuensum. Further continue drive towards Paro via Thimphu. After lunch in Paro, visit visit National Museum of Bhutan which display the Bhutanese way of life, art, artifacts and natural history. Followed by Rinpung Dzong, a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley has a long history. Built on 1644 by Ngawang Namgyal, the fortress-monastery served as an effective defense against numerous invasion attempts by the Tibetans. Overnight at Paro. (B/L/D)
Day 08 Paro – Haa Valley – Paro / 130 kms: Start the day early with a one-hour drive to Haa via the Chele-la pass (3988 meters). You will have a superb view of the mountains Chomolhari and Jichu Drake, and if the weather is favorable you will stop here to stroll around.
Haa remains one of the least visited areas in the country and retains the air of an unspoiled, primeval forest. It is sometimes also known as Hidden-Land Rice valley. It is still fairly undiscovered by tourists, as it has not been long, Haa was opened for tourist. The enchanting Haa valley boasts two large temples: The White (Lhakhang Karpo) and the Black (Lhakhang Nagpo) Temple. These are well worth a visit; join the pilgrims to there on foot. Return to Paro in the late afternoon. (B/L/D)
Day 09 In Paro / hike to Tiger’s Nest (3000 m):
Rise early to make the hike to the magnificent Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The hike is about two miles and takes about 3 hours to reach the picturesque Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery that clings to a cliff 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Tiger’s Nest is a sacred pilgrimage site, where the great tantric mystic Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) is believed to have flown on the back of the tiger to bring the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. Overnight at Paro. (B/L/D)
Day 10 Depart Paro:
After breakfast, depart Paro for your onward journey. (B)
- Accommodation in 03 star category Hotel (Grade “A” hotels of Bhutan) on twin sharing basis.
- Breakfast, Lunch and dinner per day. Lunch and dinner at local restaurant(tourist standard Restaurant).
- Transportation depending on the group size.
- English speaking professional tour guide.
- Monuments and entrance fee.
- Bottled Mineral water for drinking purpose.
- Visa Fee
- Alcoholic Beverages in the meals.
- Rescue by helicopter in case of emergency. This service can be provided at an additional cost at the time of need.
- Expenses of personal nature i.e Laundry, telephone expenses and etc.
- Service not mentioned above.
The ‘Discover Bhutan’ cultural tour explores all of the highlights of Bhutan’s most beautiful valleys at a relaxed pace allowing time to really gain the most out of this unique Kingdom. It provides the perfect overview of Bhutan’s rich culture and spectacular scenery.
• Experience Bhutan’s unique culture up-close with farmhouse visits and village excursions.
• Spend time Marveling at the ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
• Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
• Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
• Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
• Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.